When it comes to the media relations function of traditional PR, there is one goal: to get press coverage. To accomplish this and make your clients happy, you have to know how to pitch effectively. I know, easier said than done. Pitching can definitely be a challenge!
My agency, fifteen media, has worked with over 30 PR firms around the country, to help them get more media placements for their clients. At this point, we have pitched every industry from fashion to lifestyle to healthcare to technology to food.
Through the years, I have found that it doesn’t matter what you are pitching, as long as you have a good pitching method.
In addition to my hourly pitch & place services, I now offer customizable workshops to PR firms . In these workshops we go over the most effective ways to pitch. They are great for new publicists trying to get acquainted with the industry or PR pros that just want a refresher, and I've included a special offer at the bottom of this post, so make sure to read all the way through!
Now, pitching has really changed over the last few years. Media publications have become severely impacted, while editors get hundreds, if not thousands of e-mails a day. Your main battle is to get through a crowded inbox. Here are a few ways to do that, and improve your chances for media placements:
Be direct and to the point
When pitching, the shorter and more concise, the better. Ideally, your pitches should be about 5-6 sentences. With our short attention spans, we don’t like to read text-heavy e-mails. Pick out the most important information about your client and only include those things.
In fact, if you work with consumer, lifestyle or fashion clients, it's often beneficial to include fewer words, and more pictures.
Connect the dots between pitch and publication
One of the biggest disconnects I see between the way PR is taught in college and what PR is in the real world has to do with coming up with story idea. I know when I graduated, I thought I could just send the editor information about my client, and they would find a spot for it. Wrong. If only it were that easy. As a publicist, most of the time, you have to connect the dots for your media contacts.
To do this, you might have to get creative with your pitching, and do more than just pitch products. There are a lot of places to find inspiration that you might not even be thinking of! In my workshop, I provide a checklist of places that you can find stories for your clients.
Master the interest-inducing subject line
If an editor opens your e-mail, you are more than half way to a placement! You did something to capture their attention.
The key to a successful subject line is picking out the information that is truly new and important. As a publicist, it can sometimes be hard to have an objective eye about your clients. However, you have to put yourself in the reporter’s shoes, and figure out what information in the pitch is the most recognizable. Then, you use this in the subject line.
Know your publications and different media priorities
At one point, maybe when e-mail blasts were first invented, the shot in the dark method seemed to work. However, there is some skill required to build the right kind of list. If you are going to spend a significant amount of time on any portion of the pitching process, it should be on building a list of relevant contacts. The right contacts can be more important than the actual writing of the pitch.
Also, make sure you know what TV producers are looking for vs. magazine/online editors. There is a huge distinction depending on what kind of outlet you are pitching.
Even with social media, nothing replaces in-person meetings with press. As a publicist, you should set up one-on-one desk sides with your contacts at least once a quarter. This could mean your local media contacts, or if you have the budget, consider traveling to new markets. This is one of the best investments you can make to increase your placements.
For more information about inviting me to present the workshop,“Traditional PR in the Age of Social Media,” and save 20%, please contact me at Rebekah@fifteen-media.com and mention you heard about it on PR Couture.
The basic PR workshop is broken into 5 parts: where to look for story ideas (outside of the actual product), dissecting the media (what should you be pitching to online vs. print vs. TV), writing an e-mail pitch/subject line, phone follow up, and personal touches/building lasting relationships.
Photo Credit: Christian Gonzalez